December 2012


I’ve just discovered it can snow on my blog until 4 January.  It’s irresistible!

So I took Boxing Day off as well as Christmas Day, and went back to work yesterday by reading Robert Hutchinson’s biography of Thomas Cromwell.  I can’t say I was impressed, not least because I came across three of my pet hate ‘must have’s (that is, “s/he must have thought/been/looked etc”) by the bottom of page 2.  Still, it served a purpose: mainly, to provide me with the factual background on Thomas Cromwell that I need (I ignored the gloss about his venality and corruption) in a format I could read quickly (I got through the book in just over a day).

Today I went back to analysing and categorising the ballads.  I think I have nearly finished that particular exercise, and then I need to work out exactly what is going to be most appropriate for each chapter. That’s the scary bit.  However, as we’ve all had the flu-lurgy over Christmas, and it’s not shifting quickly, I’m taking it fairly slowly and I think I’ll go back to a bit of secondary reading tomorrow, mainly because it requires less concentrated effort.  I’m very much looking forward to going back to writing in a big way soon.

I’m taking a break from the madness to say merry Christmas. I have a house full of family, five children playing games together on my living room floor; lots of food on the table and a kitchen full of cooking smells. Christmas, it seems, starts here.

I’m sorry, I’ve got to say this: It’s twaddle.

I wrote my undergraduate thesis on pre-conquest Latin American culture and the impact of the Spaniards, particularly on the Aztecs, but they believed that the world had ‘ages’ and no Mayan said the world as a whole would end tonight. Apart from which, whose ‘midnight’ are we talking about? And isn’t ‘midnight’ a very convenient time considering that they didn’t have clocks…?

GIANTmicrobes | Brain Cell (Neuron).

If anyone should feel a wish to buy me  a last minute Christmas present, this would be perfect.  I have a ‘brain cell’ mug that I’ve had since I was an undergraduate, and this would be its perfect postgraduate companion.

I decided at lunchtime today that I’m stopping now for Christmas.  I’ve still got all the presents to wrap and a lot of sorting out to do before my Christmas visitors arrive, so having got my last self-imposed deadline out of the way yesterday, I am going to give myself some time off.  I may possibly do a bit of reading, but nothing heavy going and no actual research.

Yesterday I spent four hours discussing the finer points of a set of several political ballads. It was really, really good fun, and very productive.  It’s given me so much to go on too.  A good place to finish I think, so that I’ve got something I’m ready to start on in the new year, full of enthusiasm.

So merry Christmas one and all.

Yesterday, rather unexpectedly, I sat down and started writing again.  I was overcome with an urge to sest my thoughts down on paper (well, computer screen) as I read the first publication in a ballad flyting from 1540.  I wrote down what I thought about it, how I interpreted it and the background to is as I read it, and very fulfilling it was too.  In a couple of hours in an afternoon, I wrote almost 1000 words. Whether or not any of them make it to the final cut, or even into the chapter I present for my next panel in January, remains to be seen, but it felt good.  Really good.  And I’m itching to get back to it again.  I feel like I could easily pour out 8000 words on this flyting alone.  Of course, I need an angle, and a sense of where it fits in with everything else, but I’m finding it fascinating and fulfilling at the same time.  I’m happy.

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